Having purchased the previous Fawlty Towers complete series on DVD set three years ago, I was skeptical as to whether the “Remastered” version was worth it. I can assure you that it is. John Cleese’s hilarious and insightful commentary alone is worth the extra investment. As well, the sound and picture quality are noticeably better, adding to the enjoyment. Highly recommended even if you have previously purchased the series on VHS or DVD. Enjoy!
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If you’ve never heard of Fawlty Towers, you are truly missing a classic comedy series. Don’t let the fact that it’s British humor turn you away either. It’s not your typical British sitcom.
Fawlty Towers was a series of 12 episodes made in the 1970′s about a hotel in the little town of Torquay, England (pronounced Torkee). The episodes all revolve around the mishaps and misunderstandings and flat out irrational behavior of the hotel owner Basil Fawlty played by John Cleese of Monty Python fame. Cleese does a wonderful job melding physical comedy, sarcasm, and British wit, but of course he doesn’t do this alone.
Prunella Scales (former RSC actress) plays Basil’s wife Sybil Fawlty while Cleese’s wife in real life Connie Booth plays Polly, the hotel maid/receptionist/waitress. Andrew Sachs plays Manuel, the Spanish waiter who does a fabulous job playing opposite Basil Fawlty and aggravating him to the point of frustration. Note that every character at one point in the series explains Manuel’s funny behavior with the excuse “He’s from Barcelona.”
There are a few other regular characters such as the Major who is an old, rather senile war veteran and the two ladies who are also old and rather senile.
As I said earlier, there are 12 episodes. Each one is very original and I never get tired of watching them. The following is a short summary of each of the episodes.
A Touch of Class – Basil places an ad for the hotel to attract upscale clientele. A Lord Melbury makes reservations at the hotel, but he isn’t who everyone thinks he is.
The Builders – Basil hires O’Reilly, a cheap Irish builder, to rennovate the hotel, but when he and his wife leave for an outing and Polly leaves Manuel in charge, everything goes wrong.
The Wedding Party – Basil gets into a series of misunderstandings when a flirty Frenchwoman and a young, sexually playful couple and their parents stay at the hotel.
The Hotel Inspectors – Sybil tells Basil there are hotel inspectors in town. He tries second guesses who the inspector is throughout the whole show and in the process is beat up, cries in front of a guest, and is frustrated beyond belief.
Gourmet Night – Basil attempts to serve a special gourmet dinner to the town sophisticates. Of course it goes terribly wrong. (watch him beat a car with a branch)
The Germans – Sybil is in the hospital with an ingrown toenail. Basil ends up in the hospital as well after a series of accidents, but escapes to the hotel just in time to greet some German guests.
Communication Problems – Everyone is frustrated when Mrs. Richards, a woman with a hearing aid she chooses not to turn on, stays at the hotel.
The Psychiatrist – Basil freaks out when he learns about two psychiatrists staying at the hotel.
Waldorf Salad – An English woman and her husband, an American, stay at the hotel. The cook leaves early and Basil fills in to cook the couple a hot meal.
The Kipper and The Corpse – A guest dies in the night and Basil has to get place the body in a discrete place until the coroner arrives.
The Anniversary – Basil pretends to forget he and Sybil’s anniversary. He plans a surprise party that falls apart when she storms out angry.
Basil the Rat – A health inspector give the hotel one day to clean up their act. The hotel staff discover Manuel’s pet rat (named Basil) and try to get rid of it.
If you like British comedy, this is definitely a classic to own. If you like comedy, this is a treat.
The best thing about these episodes is the detail involved in each episode. Every time you see the shows, you see something new. And all details in the episodes relate to each other. For instance in A Touch of Class, pay close attention to the pile of bricks mentioned at the beginning of the episode. You’ll see them again.
Another little cute fact about the shows is the way the signs change during the title frame. The opening of the show is a scene from outside the hotel and the sign saying Fawlty Towers, but after the first episode, the sign changes to the point that it spells things such as Watery Towels.
Yes, the collection is on the expensive side but it is well worth the price and a must see for everyone. I am sure once you see these shows, you will watch them over and over again and love them for the classics they are.
Right. If you want to know precisely what you get on this spectacular set, then read on. If you, however, like the element of surprise, then don’t read it and just order it and bite your nails anticipating all the fantastic little…oh, just read the bloody thing!
Here is exactly all the wonderful little bits of fun that await you on the Fawlty Towers complete collection on 3 DVDs:
These are features every disc shares: Main menu options – Play all episodes, Episode selection, Scene selection, Subtitles (English, German, French). Special features: Director’s Commentary, Helpful Staff (Bios of main cast), Guest Registry (Bios of other cast members), Trailers – French & Saunders, Father Ted, The League of Gentlemen, Wallace & Gromit, and BBC America.Disc One – 4 Episodes: A Touch of Class, The Builders, The Wedding Party, and Hotel Inspectors. Special Features: Interview with John Cleese (1), A visit to Torquay (Home of Fawlty Towers), Footage of the Fawlty Towers hotel, Customer Service tips (Clips)Disc Two – 4 Episodes: Gourmet Night, The Germans, Communication Problems, and The Psychiatrist. Special Features: Interview with Cleese (2), Interview with Andrew Sachs (Manuel), How to manage your staff (clips)Disc Three – 4 Episodes: Waldorf Salad, The Kipper and the Corpse, The Anniversary, and Basil the Rat. Interview with Cleese (3), Interview with Prunella Scales (Sybil), Out-takes, Tips for a successful marriage (clips)
Things I learned from Fawlty Towers:
1. One nail isn’t strong enough to hang a giant moose head on your wall.2. When your car doesent work, sometimes it helps to attack it with a tree branch.3. If you take a guest breakfast in bed and speak to him and he does not move or speak back to you – he may be dead.4. A burglar alarm and a fire alarm sound quite a lot alike.